Western Europe accounted for less than 1% of the 34,676 people killed in terror attacks in 2016 and only 2% of attacks, according to a new report.

The Middle East and North Africa bore the brunt of last year's extremist violence, according to figures from the Global Terrorism Database maintained by the University of Maryland.

The report offers a different perspective after carnage in France, Britain and other European countries including Spain, where police are probing a terror cell behind attacks last week.

Western Europe suffered 2% of the attacks in 2016, 269 out of a total of 13,488, and less than 1% percent of victims; 238 out of 34,676 (0.7%).

In contrast, terror attacks killed 19,121 people in north Africa and the Middle East; 55% of the total.

Iraq alone suffered nine of the 11 deadliest attacks in 2016, each carried out by the so-called Islamic State militant group, the report said.

The deadliest attack was also in Iraq, where a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck outside a Baghdad shopping centre, killing at least 382 people.

IS was the deadliest group in 2016, its "core" operatives carrying out more than 1,400 atrocities that killed 11,700 people, including the attackers.

In South Asia, Pakistan was the worst-affected country, with more than 1,100 people killed, while in sub-Saharan Africa the attacks were concentrated mainly in Nigeria and Somalia.

While Western Europe accounted for only a small proportion of the total bloodshed, the study noted the spike in the use of vehicles as killing machines in attacks on the continent.

Last week's attacks in Catalonia used cars.

"Although this tactic is not unprecedented, there has been a marked increase in the frequency and lethality of these attacks," the report said.